A Ship of Tools

Judgement Day Feb 4, 2020

7.00am: Barnaby wants another go at being Deputy PM. He remembers the big pay packet. He is struggling, supporting two families. He remembers the look of sadness in their eyes, the last time they turfed him out (The Nationals, not either of his families. I didn’t mean them). He wants something better than weatherboard and iron.

The day also marks the opening of the Parliamentary Year, and the Parliament will pass a Motion of Condolence for those who have lost their lives in the recent bush-fires, and to honour those involved in fire-fighting efforts. The Nationals will have their moment in the idiot spotlight, no matter what.

7.22am: National Party members think about Barnaby leading them again. Many are in tears, some are too scared to cry. Many Liberals are numb, bereft, their eyes are tired, they are too drained to feel.

9.00am: The vote is held and the impossible happens. God has intervened, Barnaby remains in the wilderness. Mr Morrison leads a united party room prayer. He takes the opportunity to remind the troops that the world is watching them, so SAY NOTHING STUPID.

It appears that the team can hold the line. Craig Kelly is being detained in solitary, and Barnaby is consoling himself by cursing the heavens. Peter Dutton is lazily torturing asylum seekers, and dreaming of what might have been. The Prime Minister takes a private moment, sobbing like a baby. Bridget sits alone, wondering how it all went so horribly wrong. No point in moping – she might as well go out and shoot something. It seems to relax her.

1.10pm: I am sorry, Michael McCormack, the winner of this morning’s poll, has just told us that this summer’s bush-fires were not unprecedented, we have always had bush-fires, many just like this year’s. Can this signal the end of peace, as we know it?

Mr Morrison will now have to re-frame his arguments. No more can he ‘accept the science’, where he connects Climate Change with the fires (a tiny bit). It’s take a step, move back to the right. There is NO connection between the two. Thank God for this Government. There is no other like it, in all the world!

Judgement Day is now but a distant memory.

Barnaby is now full of goodwill. It is just that he doesn’t like the way Michael McCormack speaks. He is clearly (from Latin clarus; clear or loud) not a Latin scholar, as Barnaby so clearly is. “I have disdain when the term ‘learnings’ is used. Leaning is a verb, knowledge is a noun and ‘learnings’ is nonsense.” Barnaby went to the same school that Tony Abbott did, so you can see the quality of the ‘old boys’. Asked later if he had really studied Latin at school, he replied in Latin. He then was kind enough to tell the reporter, “you don’t have to speak Latin but English helps.” Those Jesuits really know how to teach a guy, don’t they.

What is next for the Nats?

Stay tuned for exciting developments in this unfolding yarn. I’m just going out to get a new piece of straw to chew on … Well, let’s recap. We have Llew O’Brien being the bomb-thrower on Judgement Day, by calling the spill motion, which caused the emotional turmoil within the group, indeed throughout the Government. Llew made the call because he wants Barnaby back in the big chair, mainly because he is more aggressive than Michael McCormack.

I question his strategic nous however, as very soon after Barnaby lost the vote for leader, Llew left the party, which means that when they have another leadership ballot, which seems inevitable, he WON’T have a vote, because he has resigned from the party. A bit of an own goal, really.

Matt Canavan is a true coal warrior. His brother runs an energy company, so he is never lonely. He is also the person who, when questioned about his possible Italian citizenship in 2017, did a Warnie, and blamed his mum. I know, it sounds like a television skit, but this is all true. Anyway, he resigned from Cabinet so that he could support Barnaby. He had also failed to list one of his houses in his register of interests, so maybe he was just giving himself a bit more time in which to fill in paperwork. He used to be Barnaby’s Chief of Staff, which must have made for a fun office. I wonder if they burned briquettes during winter.

Anyway, in the great tradition of the bush, he and Barnaby are now producing a podcast, called Weatherboard and Iron, which presumably describes their humble little houses. Or is it meant to show empathy with owners, or even renters, of such houses, or just because it is a catchy name which shows their humble roots? And now that they are on a backbencher’s wage, every cent helps.

Michael McCormack appeared on Insiders last week. He could not explain why a rural grants program delivered 90% of the cash to urban seats, and only 10% to the bush. He was the minister in charge of the grant program. Maybe that is why Barnaby and Matt think they could do better. I think that a week is a long time in politics, but in the case of the Nats, it is an eternity.

Stay tuned for more fascinating insights into how our system of parliamentary democracy works.

Scott Morrison Should Resign and Call an Early Election

Looking for a renewed mandate has been done before

It has become clear that this Government is illegitimate. The stench of corruption is overwhelming, and any decent Prime Minister should acknowledge that fact. In order to re-establish his relationship with the people of Australia, Morrison should resign, and call a general election.

It has been done before, and it can actually re-invigorate the political environment. In 1963 the then Liberal Prime Minister, Robert Menzies, called an early election for the House of Representatives because the government were struggling to govern with their narrow 2-seat majority in the chamber. The government succeeded in gaining an extra 10 seats. There was no discernible sense that the Prime Minister of the time was corrupt.

What is so wrong now?

The situation is vastly different now, in that there is almost a complete lack of trust in this Government. The personnel, from the very top, are so far outside the expectations of rational and honest voters that many of us feel we deserve some sort of refund, if not of our time then of our taxes.

How should the election be conducted?

If Morrison was able to conduct the election campaign as convention dictates, he would serve as a caretaker, and he would not spend millions of taxpayers’ funds on advertising his party’s policies; he would not bribe seemingly every coalition seat with unnecessary and cynical ‘grants’, and he might even stop lying about his climate policies. He should stop claiming illusory climate and emissions achievements, to appease his backbench rump. And additionally, he should allow the people to pre-select their own candidates, rather than intervene. This might lead to the omission of knuckle-draggers like Craig Kelly from the parliament. This would be a win for everyone.

If no election, what could change?

Further immediate improvements to consider include answering legitimate questions from the press, being open and transparent enough to release suppressed reports on ministers, and to promise not to protect those in his party room who have lost the trust of the Australian people. Imagine if he had actual standards which included not handing power to racists, to homophobes, or to those who have put personal advancement above the country’s interests. We know who they are, but he merely closes ranks when questioned. Sometimes he “rejects the premise of the question”.

Imagine if he apologised for the statement “A fair go for those who have a go”, which is one of the most divisive phrases ever uttered in Australian history. And imagine if his Government stopped torturing the poor. He could ‘man up’, swallow the fact that he has been wrong all along, and acknowledge that Newstart is degradingly low, and that the majority of Australians support it being substantially raised.

That would not only make moral sense, but it would serve as an immediate economic stimulus. And perhaps apologise for ‘robodebt‘, which we know was unlawful and unenforceable for years. Why don’t we rise up in revolt when it is suggested that between 800 and 2000 deaths have occurred because of that program. Who will take the responsibility for that?

Wow, death caused by a Government’s deliberate cruelty. That is to leave out the unimaginable monstrosity of our treatment of asylum seekers. Two names are enough. Scott Morrison, and Peter Dutton. A weeping sore for decent Australians.

As for other current issues, as an added latest twist of the knife, they want everyone who receives Newstart to have a cashless card, so that they have very limited access to cash. So firstly they assume everyone on Newstart is buying grog, cigarettes and maybe even porn with their $290 a week; after rent of course! Good luck with that. And secondly the idiots in charge of this have not even researched whether the card can be used in all parts of the country.

The main cause of the current dysfunction is Tony Abbott

How did it come to this? It is impossible to look at the decline of Australian democracy without looking at Tony Abbott. John Howard was mean and tricky, Kevin Rudd was a boring control freak, Julia Gillard was an effective legislator, but hopeless at presenting herself as a likeable achiever. And of course she encountered good old Aussie misogyny. Which brings us back to Abbott.

Serial liar, seemingly out to get the poor, hopelessly stuck in a misogynistic 1950s, elitist and yet so sloppy with language, so annoying and in the end so vengeful that we all knew he would take Australia down with him, if necessary, in his pursuit of Malcolm Turnbull.

Turnbull came to power as our saviour. Finally an adult in the room, urbane, sophisticated, he would treat us as adults. No more slogans, he would conduct a dialogue with us. But he turned out to have no convictions. He was over-turned, or actually complicit, on the issues of climate change, obstructing gay marriage, gutting the NBN, tax cuts for the rich (including himself), and even slogans – Jobs and Growth is notorious for its sheer meaninglessness, and he used it a lot. He also became very focused on National Security, and he was the fool who handed the keys of the ‘Interior Ministry’ to the most dangerous man in Australia, Peter Dutton.

Back to the re-set button

It is clear that the country needs to re-set, because this Government is NOT delivering on anything tangible, and there is a very strong argument that says it arrived in power by fraudulent means. It lied to every voter, and it bribed its way to a razor – slim majority.

The purpose of governments can be seen as being comparable with the underlying mission of families: To improve lives.

Governments are not elected to further their own interests, either politically, or materially. They are tasked with looking after the interests of their citizens, by advancing them along the road of progress.

So go on, Scott. Call an early election. See if God wants to reward you again, after all the shenanigans. I bet you don’t. But you should.

Lift your Game, Men of Australia.

Family Violence is a matter of Attitudes

Recently I heard Phil Cleary speaking on the radio, which reminded me of an interview of his I heard nearly five years ago. What he said during that interview was so right I thought I should, if I was unable to expand on it, fully endorse it. His target was the Royal Commission into Family Violence, which happened in Melbourne, in 2015. As many will know his sister, Vicki Cleary, was murdered by her ex-partner. As he has said, it is important to name the victims, as they deserve to be known by their names, and not only as an ex-partner of a murderous thug. That was not his only message, however.

We can argue the point as to whether the term “family violence” does justice to this subject, and we can argue that the Royal Commission made useful changes, but really, one woman a week? This is not a social ill, this is mass – murder. Male violence toward others, usually against women and children, and to a lesser extent, against other, usually younger, males, is destroying our way of life.

Phil’s argument then was that we were focusing on the wrong causes, which were seen to be predominantly substance abuse, and mental illness. He argued then, and I agree, that they are just excuses. They are lousy excuses. Excuses for bad behaviour, which feed into all the other excuses which weak men use to minimise their culpability.

What do the courts say?

“She looked at another man”, “she went out to work”, “she had a night out with the girls”, “she decided that I was not her ideal partner”, “she wanted a car for herself”. All of these excuses have been run during criminal trials in Victoria, where the person making the ‘excuse’ has actually murdered the person who was exercising her human right to ‘act on her own volition’. And do not for a moment believe that he did not have ‘adequate representation’ in that court.

Drinking too much alcohol does not compel a man to beat his partner. Smoking bongs does not turn a man into a cruel abuser. And the great excuse of our age, methamphetamine, does not pre-dispose a man to abuse his loved ones. It is ACTUALLY his attitude towards women, and children, which drives such behaviour. It begins with a lack of equality, which leads to disrespect. Out of disrespect comes abuse, and violence, and possibly, death.

What can be done about family violence?

Look around you. Bad attitudes to women and children abound. When did it become acceptable to call women by degrading names? Women make up half the population. They are our mothers, sisters, daughters and aunts. They are also our friends and colleagues, and as Phil constantly reminds us, they have names and personalities, and aspirations. The latest woman to be murdered by her partner in Australia was a fully rounded human being, but the facts suggest that another woman has died during the writing of this article.

Why do we let it continue?

It is not even necessary to argue the case for women. They are human, they are half the story, and they make humanity whole. Thinking that women are lesser creatures is the problem. It is a problem so profoundly stupid that it is difficult to believe that anyone would subscribe to the mindset. And yet we have, on average, one woman dying every week in Australia, at the hands of an intimate partner, or ex-partner. That makes a joke of the idea that we live in the land of the ‘fair go’, especially if you are female. See the truly disturbing statistics here, https://www.whiteribbon.org.au/understand-domestic-violence/facts-violence-women/domestic-violence-statistics/

How does it impact Australia?

This is not a trivial matter; it is not an aberration of class attitudes, or of rogue men, or cultural norms from immigrants. A 2011 report stated that “Intimate partner violence is a leading contributor to illness, disability and premature death for women aged 18-44.”

That is disgraceful, and entirely preventable. We, men and women, need to speak up, to actually intervene when we see unacceptable behaviour toward women, to not turn away. If he does it in public I can promise you he is worse in private.

Attitudes to children as possessions to be fought over, and sometimes to be murdered, in pursuit of a victory over an ex-partner is a tragic off-shoot of this lack of respect. They are not possessions, nor are they bargaining chips. They are yours and my future, and they deserve your protection and guidance.

Family violence is always wrong. It is always used to bully and intimidate. it is not legitimate to ‘discipline’ another person, and if you think it is, you are living in the wrong place, at the wrong time. This community needs to set itself a standard for civility, and respect. Similarly to the way we have made racism socially unacceptable, we need men to re-discover the wonder of family, of community, with no victims. And we need to consider that they are capable of change.

This article was originally published on August 20, 2015. I have recently re-visited it, and updated it. Mark Buckley February 16, 2020.

Sheer Hypocrisy – No Joke

London: The Morrison government will slash funding to the Commonwealth Secretariat in retaliation to a cronyism scandal that has sparked an international feud over its secretary-general, writes Bevan Shields in The Age today. http://Australia slashes funding for Commonwealth over cronyism scandal

Morrison’s Government Finds Dishonest Organisation Too Dodgy by Half

In what must rank as one of the greatest jokes of modern times, the Morrison Government has found an example of cronyism and ‘jobs for mates’ that it just cannot live with. Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland is struggling to obtain a second term because of alleged cronyism, after an audit savaged her decision to waive usual tender rules, and give work worth nearly $500,000 to a firm run by a friend and colleague from the House of Lords.

This reads as not dissimilar to the Bridget and Her Friends playbook, and the Morrison Government is outraged. It is withholding funds to the organisation “unless flaws in how it operates and hands out lucrative contracts are fixed.” This is pure gold.

Sports Rorts and other Assorted Reports

Contrast our Government’s confected moral outrage over this tawdry affair, with its shameless handling of the Sports Rorts affair, discussed here https://askbucko.com/2020/01/22/cleaning-the-stables/. Not only did Morrison and his cabinet escape scrutiny over that matter, while sacrificing Bridget McKenzie for the equivalent of a parking ticket, but Morrison has also cast doubt on either the Auditor General’s impartiality, or on his competence.

He then appointed the head of the Australian Public Service, a man who had previously worked in Morrison’s office, to prepare another, competing report, just for him. This report is secret, although the Auditor’s report is public. Morrison has told us that his own report could find NO evidence of political bias when the sports grants were handed over. The reason for keeping the secret report secret is that it is a secret.

Further information has emerged of a huge, $150 million handout to hand-picked electorates on the eve of the last election, which is seemingly even more dishonest than the Sports Rorts Affair. What appeared at first as a series of small ‘gifts’ to those electorates has become a flood of taxpayers’ funds, directly torn from Consolidated Revenue, and funnelled into seats which were under electoral pressure, or targeted by the Government. This is not a conspiracy theory. This actually happened, and our money is currently being spent on these facilities, which are effectively gifts to hand-picked electorates. I know, I am repeating myself, because I find the sheer effrontery of the two programs to be so astounding, and wrong.

I must admit that I am surprised that Morrison has not jumped on a plane and gone to meet this woman, because they have a lot in common. She could become the next President of the Liberal Party, or even be head-hunted to lead the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. The only problem seems to be that she thinks too small. She has only mishandled $500,000, rather than $100 million, but there is room for improvement.

Last Minute Developments

In late, breaking news, Boris Johnson has signed up to Morrison’s crusade for honesty in Government, and will withdraw funds as well, from that terrible organisation in London which cannot be trusted.

Mr Gaetjens, the author of the secret report, has defended his report. In a bow to common decency(?) all public servants are now to be coached in integrity. Meanwhile the Integrity Commission is still stalled in Never Never Land.

This Government is now leading the world in ethical behaviour. Go figure.

Has Morrison had an Epiphany?

Did Scott Morrison Need to Change His Ways?

Has our Prime Minister improved in his demeanour since the bushfire crisis? Has he reflected on the community’s assessment of his character, and decided that he needs a make-over, or a session of barnacle removing, a la Tony Abbott? Is it possible for him to change the dismissive, arrogant, my way or the highway approach, especially towards journalists, who are only asking him questions because we want them to.

His first efforts were hopeless.

Ever since he returned from his ill-conceived holiday in Hawaii, he has been traversing some difficult ground. Generally and sincerely disliked on his return, his first steps into the unknown territory of regret were badly managed, and to many his words were betrayed by his seemingly innate contempt for open conversations, and an inability to accept criticism.

His apology for the holiday’s destination, and its timing, was ‘sorry, not sorry’ style, similar in tone to how a famous sportsperson might apologise: ‘if anyone was offended, I apologise, but it is really not much to be offended by, etcetera’. Most people see through such an apology. Clearly he was advised by a PR person, with no help from his empathy adviser.

He later likened himself to a plumber, torn between a commitment to his business, and his promises to his family, or as he stresses, “his kids”. Except that he went on holiday, overseas, while his home town (Sydney) was potentially burning, and definitely choking on toxic smoke. Not really a leaking tap situation.

As I have stated elsewhere we don’t want our leaders as stand-in father figures, we want them to present themselves when necessary, and to share our difficult times, with grace and fortitude, and empathy. If they really care they should hurt along with the rest of us, and we are all able to recognise when someone is sharing our pain.

Morrison continued his rehabilitation efforts steadily. He seemed to jettison his stance that he would give Commonwealth help only when asked, and came up with the offer of $2 billion dollars to help with the recovery, and rebuilding the country. But every time he showed himself, it became a recitation of how generous he was being, and how he was seemingly giving up his dream of a budget surplus, for us.

Did he improve?

He was also at pains to establish in the public mind that the Commonwealth had been assisting in the bushfire crisis from early on in the piece, rather than as a sop to the country when most of the damage had been done. Too little, too late was the community’s feeling. His message was undercut by his insistence that fighting bushfires is a state responsibility, and the Feds only act when asked, and they hadn’t been asked. Really? Hard to believe. This was not the first national emergency Australia has faced, and the Army has been used before.

The eventual arrival of the naval ships was very welcome, but, again, every time he appeared on television, or radio he made it all sound as if he was speaking at a political rally. His army, his navy, and he didn’t even bother to warn the firefighters that much-needed help was on the way.

After the deployment his office actually spruiked the use of the Defence Force as an act of grace, provided by the Liberal Party, on Facebook. There was even a “donate” button, until someone, maybe the empathy adviser, had it removed. Even as I read that sentence I am amazed all over again, that we can take Scotty out of Marketing, but we struggle to take the Marketing out of Scotty.

Was Climate Change a factor?

As the country burned, the issue of climate change was the elephant in the room. Morrison appeared, momentarily, to budge on it, acknowledging the science, and promising that the Government was “evolving” its position. This proved to be a false dawn, however, because he began repeating his deceitful mantra that we would “meet and beat our Paris targets at a canter.” A deliberate nonsense, of course, achieved by using a dodgy accounting trick. His ability to repeat these claims without batting an eyelid is testament to his ‘superb indifference’ to the community.

Look over there, a unicorn!

At least he had moved on from saying that during the fires was not the right time to discuss the likely causes, but he did introduce a couple of diversions, picked up directly from the Murdoch press. These were that arsonists were the major cause, or that the lack of fuel reduction burning was to blame. Obviously they were factors, but grossly overstated, and in the case of arsonism, he or his minions deliberately used misleading Police statistics.

This muddied the waters, and was an attempt to move attention away from the obvious effects of the hottest year on record in Australia, and a near record dry spell. The predictions that climate change would increase the number of extremely hot days, and even the likelihood of prolonged low humidity were proved right. Helpfully, Craig Kelly continued his ridiculous tilting at climate change windmills (?), until Morrison had to gag him.

While this effort at re-branding the Prime Minister was proceeding, Morrison was busy backgrounding journalists by denigrating the NSW Premier and her efforts during the darkest days, including stating that she had refused an offer of assistance from the Commonwealth. She vehemently denied the fact, so not much consideration for Liberal Party solidarity. When times are tough, every man for himself!

Recently he has been pushing the adaptation and resilience theme, which is very sensible, but another diversion away from the main game – the climate is getting hotter, and the bush-fire season is only going to get longer, year on year if we do nothing about the climate. Let us not forget that the season for bushfires has considerable time to run.

So, any change in our Prime Minister?

The latest controversy, over using public funds to shore up his electoral chances, was dealt with at the National Press Club, where he baldly stated that if people were disappointed at missing out on the Pork Barrel Express, he would look at re-opening the scheme, so that even more money from our hard earned taxes could be directed to sports clubs. When asked whether it was proper for the Minister (Bridget McKenzie) to over-ride the relevant NGO and its experts in apportioning grants, he stated that Ministers knew more than the career public servants tasked with the job anyway, so no problem there.

In breaking news he has attempted to excuse the inexcusable, by accepting McKenzie’s resignation for breaching ministerial standards, over a petty $36,000; whatever happened to the $100,000,000? Oh I am sorry, he has offered to open the wallet for ALL the disappointed clubs which missed out. Wow, our money, and he is prepared to be so generous with it! He really does not get it. We are not all stupid, and incumbency is not a licence to steal.

This is staggeringly inept from a politician. Even he knows how lowly we rate politicians, in all fields, but especially when it comes to using taxpayers’ money for personal political gain. This man continues to be the arrogant wowser we all thought he was, without a shred of self-awareness.

So in answer to my question, no. He has very definitely not had an epiphany on this road to Damascus.

Cleaning the Stables

On Dec 2, 2019 the Australian Parliament voted on a motion to create a federal Anti-Corruption Commission. The motion was put forward by Andrew Wilkie, an Independent from Tasmania. The motion failed, because a majority of federal parliamentarians was against the creation of such a body. The votes were cast along party lines, with no deviations.

The text of the motion commenced with the following:

(a)over a long time now the behaviour of both major parties has made it abundantly clear that Parliament cannot deal with matters of ministerial integrity, and Australia urgently needs a Federal Integrity Commission;

and included:

(c)the scope of this integrity commission must extend beyond criminal offences to a range of corrupt and unethical behaviour including donation-fuelled favouritism, cronyism and the rorting of parliamentary entitlements;

Recently Senator Bridget McKenzie, a National Party member, and Deputy Leader of the party, was found by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) to have acted outside the spirit of a $100 million sports grant program, overseen by McKenzie while she was the Minister for Sport, in the lead-up to the 2019 Australian federal election.

The ANAO stated that it “was administered in a way that was not informed by an appropriate assessment process and sound advice”, and sporting organisations in marginal seats that the Coalition needed to win were favoured with grants.

Although there are a myriad of such priceless moments in Australian parliamentary history, it is disheartening to once again encounter such shamelessness in a senior minister, and indeed in every member of the Coalition. Bridget McKenzie has refused to resign, and ridicules the very notion that she should. Her defence has been varied, from describing it as “reverse pork-barrelling” to “no rules were broken”. Such brazenness is breathtaking, but not a surprise.

Andrew Wilkie’s motion could not have been more appropriate, and on the money, had he been a psychic, or a fortune teller. Bridget McKenzie has clearly engaged in behaviour which falls into the area anticipated by “extends beyond criminal offences to a range of corrupt and unethical behaviour including donation-fuelled favouritism and cronyism.”

We can credibly throw in cronyism as well, because she threw buckets of money at sporting clubs in Scott Morrison’s electorate, in Tony Abbott’s (lost) electorate, and the Attorney-General, Christian Porter’s, electorate. Her ‘throw’ to Josh Frydenburg’s Kooyong is staggeringly inappropriate, if you see this as a ‘needs-based’ programme, which it is. Kooyong sits in Melbourne’s ‘dress circle’, where there are more tiaras than headbands.

In Mr Frydenberg’s economically well-endowed seat of Kooyong, the Guardian reported grants were given to Camberwell Hockey Club ($38,000), East Camberwell Tennis Club ($90,000), Kew Little Athletics ($92,450), Grace Park Hawthorn Club ($25,000) and Hawthorn Malvern Hockey Centre ($500,000). These grants all occurred in the second and third rounds, as the election approached and when it seemed that the Liberal Deputy Leader might have been in a spot of bother, electorally speaking.

There is considerable doubt in my mind as to whether these sporting clubs’ applications were completed by volunteers working into the night.

I cannot be sure if rorting of parliamentary entitlements is on her CV, but she once took a 1,700km direct charter flight to Melbourne from Rockhampton, so she could watch the Melbourne Mustangs ice hockey team. The cost to taxpayers was $19,942, plus $500 for the Comcar from the airport to the game, the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority data showed. A week earlier she spent $14,000 flying via charter to Cairns to watch a basketball game. She sat two seats from Prince Charles. You have to hope it was worth it. There were commercial flights available in both instances, but busy is busy!

But enough enjoyment from the cheap seats, concentrating on only one member of the Government. It is equally interesting to look at how the parties voted on the original motion advanced by Mr Wilkie.

The theyvoteforyou.org.au website states that, when the vote was taken, the vote in favour was unanimous from the Labor Party, Australian Greens, Centre Alliance, Independents, and even Bob Katter;

Against was also unanimous: the Liberal Party, the National Party, the Liberal National Party. So the reactionary right voted 100% against having an anti-corruption body, with teeth, which would be set up to investigate Parliamentarians, their staff, and the Public Service. You have to ask yourself, “What do they have to hide?”

Plenty. The fact that Scott Morrison’s office is mainly staffed by Energy Industry retirees, relentlessly pushing the fossil fuel industry cart. The stacking of the AAT, with time-servers, most without legal qualifications; Angus Taylor and his imaginary water, all $80 million worth; Angus Taylor and Clover’s imaginary travel costs: our minister for climate. Barnaby and his service as Drought Envoy, report delivered by text; wow. How about George, the Minister for Manila; Matthias and his free holiday; sorry, not free!

The list is endless, although opening Christmas Island for a press conference, at a cost of $180 million, probably takes the cake. It is discussed here, more fully … https://askbucko.com/2019/04/05/christmas-island-a-huge-waste-of-money/

What do you call it? Is dishonesty too strong? It seems we need an Integrity Commission, asap! No chance, with this Government.

Waiting for the Replay

Scott Morrison is now having to deal with the two very distinct wings of his party, as they gird themselves for the culture war which will probably erupt at any moment. This culture war will not be about indigenous history, or the date of Australia Day, or even immigration. It is about climate change.

Since the election there seems to have been something of a re-birth of ‘wet’ liberals, or as they sometimes call themselves, Modern Liberals. Tim Wilson, Dave Sharma, Jason Falinski, Katie Allen, Angie Bell and Trent Zimmerman have even gone as far as joining the Parliamentary Friends of Climate Action group.

Now it is difficult to gauge the sincerity of several of the members, especially Tim Wilson and Jason Falinsky, because they have proved in the past to have a skittish relationship with the truth, but it just might be a sign of change. The group includes people from the other tribes, such as Labor and the Independents, so the Libs might even learn something. Apparently their ‘modernism’ is predicated on their acceptance that something is afoot with, you know, the weather, or the climate, or some-such.

Knowing whether any of them are prepared to ‘go to the barricades’ for the climate is another matter, entirely. Tim Wilson is a hard man to categorise. One day a thinker, the next wilfully awful, and a shameless self-promoter. His electorate expects something of him, however, and he is something of a weather vane (pardon the pun). They will be joined by others, eventually, but for the majority who do join them it will not be a matter of principle, but more one of crude survivalism, where instead of preparing for the climate catastrophe, they will be preparing for electoral Armageddon. Australians MUST run out of patience soon. If the bushfires in rainforests don’t prompt a wake-up, the smoke will.

We know that Malcolm Turnbull is the major casualty of the Climate Change War, versions 1.0 and 2.0. Will Scott Morrison be the next one? I think not, because Scott Morrison is playing a clever game, wherein he acknowledges the science behind the change, but then he slinks away, calling out such evasions as “our position will evolve, over time”. He has even had his Science Minister call for an end to the discussion, and for action! A mere diversion, I fear.

On the other side of this culture war are the usual suspects. Craig Kelly, George Christensen, Matt Canavan, Barnaby Joyce, Michael McCormack and even David Littleproud. There have been two prominent recruits to their ranks since the election; Gerard Rennick and Samantha McMahon, and they distinguish themselves with the strength of their denialism, and some of their creativity regarding the “climate change conspiracy”. Senator Rennick believes that the Bureau of Meteorology is in on it, and has been using a dodgy thermometer. But their spiritual leader must be the formidable Peter Dutton, he who made that terrific joke about water lapping at the feet of citizens of the Pacific. Perhaps we need look no further than that notorious film clip, to see where Morrison really stands – with Tony Abbott and Peter Dutton. And it is Scotty from Marketing who spots the microphone. Always on the lookout to protect his image.

But back to the culture war. Morrison is desperately trying to re-fashion his image, and to move on from his odd coal-clutching moment in Parliament, but he is either the creature of the right, or he is their hostage. Considering that keeping his job is the main game, and the perception that the electorate is indeed waking up, and will at some time demand climate action, he is indeed caught between a rock and a hard place.

What exquisite irony! Morrison could suddenly wake up, smell the smoke, and reverse a decade of lies, deceit and wilful blindness concerning the climate emergency, and undertake a belated transition to a low carbon future. Presumably he would have the Greens, the Labor Party, the Independents (the sane ones) and even the Modern Liberals on his side, as well as the Australian public.

The question is would he survive the inevitable reaction from what can fairly be called the Alternative Government? Craig and George, Barnaby and Samantha, Michaelia of ‘lost utes’ fame, and Dutts? I think he would, but I doubt he has the ticker, or the commitment to our future, to even try.

Memo to Scott Morrison

In Australia we do not vote for the Prime Minister, we vote for a local member, who is usually a member of a political party. In simple terms, when all the votes are counted the party with the greatest number of members becomes the government, and the assembled members have already decided, or they will very quickly decide, who is to be their leader. This person is then deemed to be the Prime Minister.

As John Howard once stated, the Prime Ministership is “the unique gift of the party room”. So, again, we did not vote for you to be the Prime Minister. When you came back from your holiday to Hawaii you seemed to style yourself as a ‘father of the country’, come to give us comfort, in a time of trouble. No-one wanted you to be a comforter, some sort of ‘dad figure’, riding in to pretend that you will fix everything, to steady the ship because we couldn’t. We wanted you to do what your predecessors did in other times; to be available, to lead, to encourage the volunteers, and to earn your extravagant pay packet.

We expected you to share the discomfort and the anxiety of another terrible summer, knowing that there are at least two months of bushfire season still to play out, with unknown, but probably dire, consequences. We also note that you just had to go on holiday outside Australia. I guess that is because you couldn’t find anywhere in Australia that wasn’t either on fire, or smoke affected.

We don’t need you to explain that you don’t actually hold a hose, we already know that. We don’t need you to claim that the responsibility rests with the states. We expect total commitment from the Commonwealth, because we are all in this together, and no-one likes any official ducking responsibility with weasel words.

No-one liked your fatuous comment that the volunteer fire-fighters did not want compensation for lost wages and benefits, because they “wanted to be there”. No-one wanted you to behave as if you, and you alone, will decide whether they will receive that compensation. No-one wants Australia to be run by one person, making all the decisions, and not listening to your employers, the people. We vote for a government, not a dictatorship.

You are the Prime Minister because your colleagues believe that you are some sort of political genius. I have seen enough of your performance to know that the only reason you are in the position you are is because of bucket-loads of luck. Luck that Bill Shorten was so inept at selling his message, luck that enough voters believed the lies before and during the campaign, luck that Malcolm Turnbull did not protect his back from you, and luck that no-one actually knew who you were, and so had not formed an opinion of your character.

The news came through today that you would graciously ‘allow’ NSW firefighters to receive compensation. Again the ‘father of the country’ is deciding, by himself, to give what the vast majority of this country’s citizens have already decided should be done.

Again the decision is too little, too late, and does not include firefighters from other states. But I would almost bet that decision will be broadened to include other firefighters, but grudgingly, and in a manner designed to save face for you, and reinforce that ‘father of the country’ trope.

Finally, Climate Change is hugely implicated in this drought, and in the fires resulting from increased temperatures and dry fuel. No-one wants Craig Kelly and his group of fellow deniers to further damage the country, by holding you hostage over the matter. We remember that Kelly was on his way out of the parliament, rejected by his own party for views too extreme for the community to swallow. But you inexplicably saved him before the election, and he continues to hold the country back.

Try and remember that it is not your money. It is money collected from our taxes. You should spend it as we direct you. Your Government is letting us all down. Your meanness is noted, and your self-satisfaction. We are all getting to know you now, and weasel words will not save you from the judgement of your fellow citizens. You need to step up, and get over yourself. You are, at the end of the day, a mere politician.

Seriously Under-achieving

The current Government seems to be, almost universally, staffed by a large group of impostors. Are they visitors from another planet, passing themselves off as movers and shakers, decision makers? Have they infiltrated the bodies of the incumbents, but are insufficiently programmed to carry off the deception? Are they all zombies, not alive, but not dead. Whatever the explanation, there is an eerie emptiness about them, as if their batteries are running down.

I watched Question Time recently. Perhaps I am suffering from that, but I did not see anyone who resembled a real member of a real Government. I saw absolute non-entities stand up to ask questions, so phrased as to invite disbelief, using terms, from Government member to fellow Government Minister, like “please explain how and why you are doing such a peerless job for the people of Australia, or your electorate”, and please take your time while you do it, so that the taxpayers of this country can be enraged, disgusted, disenchanted, and generally short-changed by their representatives.

The Ministers duly replied to these gently lobbed love-notes. And what a motley crew they are. And who would have thought that Scott Morrison, who constantly reminds us of the irrelevance of “the Canberra bubble” would sit, firmly front and centre of that self-same bubble, smiling his smug smile, as question after question was wasted, so shamelessly?

The Opposition were fixated on asking all their questions about Angus Taylor, that curiously luckless individual, and with such a do-nothing Government, perhaps he is the only action in town. Their questions were all directed at the Prime Minister, who deflected them all, in between taking potshots at the Opposition Leader. Morrison was ducking and weaving, answering unasked questions, using the inside language of his bubble, with “Mr Speaker” thrown in at every second moment, as if it lends a parliamentary gravitas to his essentially juvenile sneering.

Visit the chamber a day later, and the show has become even more bogged down in mediocrity, like a slow motion train crash. While the planet teeters on the brink of climatic ‘tipping points’; as the Government is found to have been gouging those it maybe, possibly, suspected of being overpaid, while on welfare, sometimes as much as a decade ago; as more than sixty Australian citizens, victims of their husbands and/or fathers who dragged them to Syria to fight in a war most of them are too young to understand, cower in terror; as Australia’s international reputation is trashed, and our citizens shamed by the inhumanity shown to the refugees, both onshore, and offshore; the Australian Government was closing ranks to save the political life of an entitled twit, who is currently being slowly roasted for a totally unnecessary own goal.

That is not to mention that well-known political genius, Scott Morrison, who thinks God helped him win the unwinnable election. We are seriously in the hands of idiots! And consider for a moment, the fact that the fate of two almost meaningless, certainly small-minded, nasty pieces of legislation, which are before the Senate, are to be decided by Jacquie Lambie, and Pauline Hanson, respectively. This must be what a mandate looks like, when an elected Government relies on the deciding votes of two such giants of parliamentary tradition.

One is left wondering how we got to this terrible situation. I must fall back on my original thesis: Someone has kidnapped the Government, and replaced it with badly programmed robots.

Why Labor Lost

As this year’s election result became clear, Bill Shorten stated, “We were up against corporate leviathans, a financial behemoth, spending unprecedented hundreds of millions of dollars advertising, telling lies, spreading fear – they got what they wanted.” That is the voice of a hapless victim, complaining about forces beyond his control, and not the alternative leader of the country.

Politics can be a dirty and brutal business, but the outcomes are real, and they have a real effect on the quality of people’s lives, so it is absolutely necessary to approach the contest prepared, and to deliver your best efforts. That includes fighting for your beliefs, especially if you are the party of reform, because you represent the needy and the disadvantaged, and the parties of the right will, by nature, and choice, represent vested interests.

The report into why Labor lost, by Craig Emerson and Jay Weatherill, really states the bleeding obvious, in that the party did not respond to the change of leader, from the failed toff to the shameless marketer; that it had too many, detailed, costly policies, which merely played to the Coalition’s perceived strength re. economic management; and it had an unpopular leader. What is not stated is that the party let down its constituency, by being unprepared, superficial, and self-satisfied.

Malcolm Turnbull is an inveterate waffler. He can’t help himself, but Shorten’s verbal awkwardness is equally excruciating, so they sort of cancelled each other out. As a contrasting attraction, Morrison is good on his feet, he is pithy in his communications, and he relates to the common man. Shorten could never match him in punchy messaging, so Labor needed to simplify, dare I say to shorten, and sell, the message. They also needed to modify their response to Morrison. He was not ostensibly from the ‘big end of town’, but his ambition and his duplicity were legitimate areas of concern, as was his penchant for rashness, and a reputation for callous disregard to those less better off than himself. Even Turnbull had the grace to display a modicum of ‘noblesse oblige’.

Oppositions are not Governments. They don’t have to prove anything, because they have been out of power, in this case for six years, so anything which looks or feels wrong, is by definition, the Government’s fault.

The drover’s dog could have won this election if Labor had merely turned up on the day, not scared anyone off with badly explained and overly complex policies, and bothered to relate to their base. Fighting the Greens in the inner cities was a waste of resources, and merely reinforced the impression that they had lost touch with their natural constituency, the Working Class.

And let us not forget the absolute rabble that the Government had become before going into the election. They knew it, and they were busily selling off the silverware, resigned to the fact that they were almost universally despised, and whoever had managed to accrue a decent pension, or a reasonable sinecure, was jumping ship. Remember the election launch, where the ‘joke de jour’ was that most of the cabinet ministers were in witness protection. Labor should have capitalised on that community disdain; Barnaby, Dutts, Shameless Angus and Melissa the Missing (Environment Minister), to name but a handful.

The Coalition’s lack of policies was a strength for them. It allowed the relentless sloganeering and the personal targeting of Shorten to proceed unhindered, and unchallenged. Labor looked like the nerd in the playground, who felt superior and smug, but would not bother to explain why, or respond.

Climate change was the elephant in the room, and was both Labor’s greatest strength, and its greatest vulnerability. Win Victoria and lose Queensland, or vice versa. Did no-one realise that the climate-denying rump of the Coalition was, and still is, calling the policy shots in the Coalition? Why not attack the Coalition’s disunity on the matter, exploit their confusion, dazzle them with economic arguments as to why renewables are so attractive, a real win-win solution.

It is hard to believe the lengths to which seemingly grown men and women will go to display confected outrage and disgust at something as innocuous as a paddock of solar panels, or wind turbines. Have they never seen a photo of a power station, let alone one in real life?

Why was no policy formulated, and sold, which explained the economic benefits of de-carbonising the economy, so that coal was, rather than being the saviour of mankind, explained as being too dangerous to use, and able to be economically phased out.

The argument about Shorten is correct. No matter the quality of the offering, you must sell it. And with Labor’s mix of impenetrably complex economic measures, a scare campaign was inevitable. What was needed was someone credible to discredit it. Imagine the “death tax” in the hands of Hawke or Keating; what we got was Shorten bleating that it was misleading.

Strangely both major Australian parties have moved to make it nearly impossible to remove a party leader, at the expense of good sense, or changing circumstances, or even voter preference. Look at the example in Britain. Jeremy Corben is firmly in control of his party in the Commons, yet almost universally loathed throughout the electorate. Ditto Bill Shorten. Hard to vote for a person who has stabbed not one, but two of his leaders in the back, and then to add insult to injury, he is irremovable.

The final mistake was to leave Morrison’s hucksterism unchallenged. His footy following, beer chugging, curry cooking persona was so obviously at odds with his Holy-Roller, bible bashing personality, he was almost as laughable as Peter Dutton trying to smile for his tilt at the Prime Ministership. But as the experts in Behavioural Economics tell us, in moments of doubt or uncertainty, we naturally return to the ‘default’ position. In this case better the devil you know, than the one you don’t. And see where that has got us all!